We’ve heard our friend Richard Weeks is not well at the moment as he takes a little time out to deal with an eye operation. It’s hard to imagine anything stopping him for long.
The founder and chairperson of the Waterloo Public Housing Action Group (WPHAG), Richard is a beacon of hope and energy – lobbying on behalf of his fellow residents for improved conditions and better information on a huge planned redevelopment that will affect some 3000 people living there.
With almost half the residents over 60 years of age, over a third having lived in the estate apartment blocks for over a decade – and some 10% of residents of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island background – the Waterloo Estate is a frontline area for a host of issues circling around inequality and vulnerable people who’ve forged their own community spirit under tough and uncertain circumstances.
We’ve been working with Richard since Covid times, finding a bridge to him with thanks to Grace Rabuatoka from The Fijian Community, another powerhouse making her presence and good works felt from Glebe to Waterloo and beyond.
Back during the lockdowns – and to this very day – Grace comes by and picks up hundreds of Addi Road hamper boxes to help people battling, having established her own network of distribution contacts and an understanding of their real needs all over the city. Richard Weeks is a leader among them – and someone who has kept the relationship with Grace and Addi Road active and strong.
Grace took this snap of Richard Weeks only a months ago, loading up another delivery of Addi Road hampers for the Waterloo Estate. He takes them to his office space and works with a small team of volunteers he has rallied, who then carry the hampers across and up into the various apartment towers, door knocking, making people have food and that they feel connected, remembered, a part of the community.
Grace frets about how Richard may be feeling now. Notes what a mighty figure he really is. “A tiny guy with a big heart,” Grace says, beating her chest with her hand. “Very easygoing, but so hard working. He is an amazing man… he has been a school teacher, a radio announcer, a soldier in Vietnam. Now he is doing so much at Waterloo, for years, for everyone.”
We’re all wishing you well Richard. And looking forward to delivering more Addi Road hampers for you to distribute to the residents of the Waterloo Estate. You’re a lighthouse in the community, shining the way for everyone. Vision 20/20 in spirit and in action.